Regular running workouts are a great way to improve your physical stamina and endurance, but if you want to get faster, incorporating a few ladder drills in your training can have a huge impact. Practicing speed ladder drills each week will quickly improve your agility.
What is speed ladder training?
Speed and agility ladder training involves drills with quick feet and fast footwork. Many athletes have a rope ladder, or even tape a ladder on their floors to utilize during their ladder training. Ladder drills involve working your way through the ladder quickly, without stepping on it.
Correctly practicing speed ladder drills means that you will need to use fast footwork to make your way through the ladder. Each agility drill involves following some sort of pattern for your footwork – whether it be a side step, high knees, quick feet, carioca, or any various other movements.
The goal is to work your way through the ladder drill quickly, without stepping on the ladder, landing heavily on the floor, or losing your balance.
What do ladder drills help with?
Each speed ladder drill requires you to make small movements, repeated very quickly. As you work your way through the ladder, remaining agile and light on your feet is necessary to complete the drill without falling.
Agility ladder training promotes full body balance, as you are required to stay light on your feet and upright while taking many steps very quickly.
How often should you do ladder drills?
Many athletes find that when beginning ladder training for the first time, practicing even just once a week leads to huge improvements in their speed and agility.
However, as you get settled in your training and are ready to really focus on getting faster and increasing your speed, it is ideal to incorporate agility ladder drills about twice a week.
Ladder drills don’t have to take a lot of time – simply incorporating just 10 minutes of agility drills two times a week is enough to make a difference.
If you don’t have a ladder to use, you can make one on your own with duct tape. Find a hard floor that is not used frequently, or in a space where it can be covered with a rug or mat when not in use. Tape out a ladder on the floor in your home gym, basement, garage, or any other place that works for you.
Once you have a ladder to use, you’ll be able to start incorporating speed and agility drills into your training on a regular basis.
How to Get Started with Ladder Drills
It can sometimes be difficult to decide where to begin when it comes to ladder training. If you’ve never practice ladder drills before, you might find that the first attempt is significantly more challenging than you expect.
When you start your first speed ladder drill, make sure to take it slow. Your first priority as you begin any sort of ladder training is to move through the exercise with small, light steps. While the eventual goal will be to move through the drill as quickly as possible, beginners should first prioritize staying light on their feet.
Once you get the feel for the ladder drill, you’ll be able to complete it more confidently and with better balance. As you begin to get used to agility training, you can start to pick up your speed.
It won’t take long before you start to see an improvement. These 10 speed and agility ladder drills are quick, simple and easy to incorporate into any athlete’s training plan. Simply complete them before or after your usual workout, or incorporate them into another cardio workout you already have planned.
10 Ladder Drills for Speed and Agility
Lateral Side Step
This is a great ladder drill for beginners. Turn to the side so your shoulder is angled towards the opposite end of the ladder, and simply work your way through the ladder with a side step.
Begin with the foot that is closest to the ladder and take a step to the next space. Next, bring the opposite foot in. Continue side stepping towards the top and then repeat going back with the opposite foot leading.
Two-in-One Linear Run
Another great ladder drill for beginners is the linear run. Face the top of your ladder and step one foot into the first opening. Bring your other foot in next to it, and then continue moving up the ladder.
This ladder drill is really helpful for full body agility, and can serve as a great warm up for your workout. Face the top of your ladder, and work your way through it with high knees. Take a step on each foot in every opening, keeping your knees up towards your chest, as high as possible.
Two In, Two Out
Your quick feet and overall balance will come into play during this agility drill. Stand facing the top of your ladder and hop forward, landing both feet inside the first opening.
Next, hop your feet away from one another, landing on opposite sides outside the ladder. Hop forward to land both feet inside the next opening, and continue moving forward by hopping in and out.
One In, One Out
Similar to the previous drill, this ladder exercise involves stepping your feet in and then out of the openings on the ladder. However, rather than jumping so both feet land in or out of the ladder at the same time, in this agility drill, you’ll move each foot individually.
Step in the first opening with one foot and then the other, and then step outside the ladder with each foot. Continue moving to the top of the ladder.
In and Out with Hip Twist
This ladder drill is exactly the same as one in, one out – but with one exception. As you make your way up the ladder, twist your hips in the direction your feet are moving. Once you build up speed during the ladder drill, your hips will be twisting from one side to the other.
This ladder drill really gives you an opportunity to work up some speed. Stand sideways, with one shoulder pointed towards the top of the ladder.
Step into the first opening with your leading foot. Next, bring the opposite foot over the top of your leading foot to land in the next opening. Now you’ll take the other foot around the back of your front foot to land in the next opening.
Continue moving up the ladder by bring the back foot forward and alternate moving in front of and behind the front foot.
Here is a ladder drill that sounds deceptively easy, but can get significantly more challenging once you work up some speed.
This ladder drill is similar to the two-in-one linear run, with the only difference being that you step a single foot in each opening on the ladder rather than two. Step your way up the ladder by landing one foot in each opening, so each foot lands in every other space.
Single Foot Hops
This agility drill requires a great deal of balance and mental focus to gain speed. Begin facing the top of your ladder and lift one foot in the air. Balancing on one leg, hop into the first opening of the ladder. Continue to hop your way up the ladder.
Two-Footed Back and Forth Jumps
To start this ladder drill, you’ll want to turn to the side and stand on one side of the ladder. Begin by jumping into the first space of the ladder while facing the side (shoulder angled towards the top of the ladder).
Next, jump forward to the opposite side of the ladder. Then jump backwards to land in the next opening of the ladder, followed by another backwards jump to land on the opposite side of the ladder.
Continue jumping forwards and the backwards to make your way moving sideways towards the top of the ladder.
The shuffle is similar to the lateral side step but can be completed using many different varieties. For all versions, you’ll want to turn sideways so your shoulder is angled towards the top of the ladder.
After mastering the single side step, trying making your way up the ladder by taking smaller steps, so you land each foot in the same opening twice; or larger steps, skipping openings in between.
These agility and speed ladder drills are the perfect addition to just about any athlete’s training plan. Whether you’re hoping to get faster on your feet, improve your balance or simply increase your overall agility, ladder training is an incredibly effective way to do so.
Try adding just a few minutes of ladder drills to your training each week and see how your speed and agility improve!